For Business Growth, the 3 Best Practices in Cutting Costs

You won’t achieve long-term profitable growth merely by slashing your costs. That’s usually a defensive strategy.

Why? Many of your expenses actually represent opportunities for your business growth. It’s true.

While it’s common for entrepreneurs to be fearful and reactionary in the face of expenses, it’s more productive to be unemotional when making decisions to bolster objectives.

Wholesale cost-cutting isn’t an approach that will enable you to go on offense. To grow, you must remain on offense.

True, profitable business leaders do cut expenses to align their costs with their business strategies. But they do it strategically.

They know cutting the right costs translate into opportunities that prepare them for growth by unleashing resources that actually support progress.

You can, too. By strategically cutting costs, you will develop a resilient business-growth model.

Start with understanding and identifying the differences in your expenses and how they align with the marketplace while concurrently keeping in mind your customers’ needs and preferences,

Hint: Always remember your customers and clients have to cope with the same uncertainties as you.

So, strive to fully grasp your customer needs and wants as well as the necessary techniques you can use to enhance your abilities to respond to your customers.

Just as you differentiate your company to your customers, you must differentiate your costs to propel your business growth.

A reminder about value: For instance, are you always mindful that your customers expect value? And that value to one customer might differ from another?

In analyzing value, they always look for convenience.

They inherently want to easily understand your offerings. They want it to be easy to buy your products and services. And they want to easily maintain your product or use your services.

Before launching cost-cutting initiatives, understand how each of your costs affects your business.

Just as you differentiate your company to your customers, you must differentiate your costs to propel your business growth.

In other words, keep in mind that costs aren’t necessarily harmful.

Here are strategies for dangerous costs, helpful costs, and necessary costs:

1. Dangerous costs

Dangerous costs are wasteful. They don’t align well with your business growth objectives and should be cut immediately. The savings should be allocated to the resources that promote growth.

2. Helpful costs

Once you fully understand your customers, you can choose to embrace helpful costs. Then, you can use them as investments in your business.

For example, do you need to invest in certain technology that placates your customers?

In my consulting practice which includes marketing, some of my clients have used media advertising in their marketing mix. So we used testimonials and interviews of my clients.

Rather than ask each of them to drive 30 miles from their suburban locations to downtown Seattle recording studios – over my accountant’s objections – I purchased broadcast-quality mobile equipment to record interviews at client sites. That saved them time and money and kept them happy clients for years.

3. Necessary costs

Actually, necessary costs will set you apart from your competition. Competitors will try to copy your strategies.

However, my sense is that when done well nothing is ever as good as the original – even when replicated. Necessary costs will help you construct and multiply your differentiated services and products.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

Manage Health Costs by Improving Your Culture 3 Ways — Is your company saddled with high health costs? By improving your culture in three ways to minimize stress, your company will improve performance and long-term sustainability.

For the Best Cash Flow, Manage Your Inventory Costs with 8 Tips — With proper inventory management, you can lower your expenses and increase your cash flow. For many businesses, it means taking a look at your inventory costs.

To Cope with Rising Costs, Review your Pricing Strategy — Increased costs weigh heavily on the bottom line. If you’re being pressured by costs, it’s probably time to review your pricing strategy.

8 Strategies When Sales Drop and Costs Cut into Your Profits — If your sales are down and costs are hurting your profits, you’re not alone. The irony is you can do something about it — with these eight tips.

19 Best Practices in Due Diligence for Profitability — To lead your company to high profitability – and to stay there – due diligence is needed in critical values.

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

-Benjamin Franklin


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at 

What Bill Gates Says about Donald Trump Will Surprise You

The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, has two unique insights about the richest person ever to win the presidency, Donald Trump.

Mr. Gates astutely observes Mr. Trump was not elected “for specific policies” but for his “kind of leadership.” The tech icon also believes Mr. Trump has a message reminiscent of President John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Gates made his observations in an interview with Business Insider.

The two leaders have talked on the telephone and later met at Trump Tower to discuss Mr. Gates’ initiative on clean energy and climate change.

Mr. Gates said he had “a lot of fascination” with the “new directions” of the country under the Trump Administration.

“… in the same way that President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that — I think that whether it’s education or stopping epidemics, other health breakthroughs, finishing polio, and in this energy space — there can be a very upbeat message that his administration is going to organize things, get rid of regulation barriers, and have American leadership through innovation be on of the things that he gets behind,” he explained.

Mr. Gates also told CNBC “there can be a very upbeat message” in the Trump Administration. But on trade he won’t want to get into a tariff “tit for tat” with China.

“You know, a lot of his message has been about things where he sees things not as good as he’d like,” Mr. Gates also told Business Insider.

Indeed, Mr. Trump has to deal with the world as it finds it, not as his opponents think it should be.

To accomplish his feats in business negotiations, Mr. Trump traditionally has taken a hard position – then he’s been able to pull his opponents closer to his philosophical positions.

He’s now using his patented negotiating style in foreign policy.

Even if it upsets people – foreign policy experts, Democrats and Chinese leaders – he doesn’t hesitate to talk with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen or comment on China’s currency manipulations.

New direction

Why? He knows America needs a true reset – a new direction.

The U.S. has promoted free trade, democratic values and nation-building for decades. It worked for a while. But it hasn’t in recent decades whether it’s been in the Middle East, through NAFTA or allowing China to participate in the World Trade Organization.

Yes, America has failed in spreading democratic values, free-market ideals and in nation-building.

Hence, Mr. Gates astutely observed many Americans want Mr. Trump’s leadership style. They’re sick and tired of the oppressive burdens from the failed promises of globalization and unregulated immigration.

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

-Ronald Reagan

An entitlement attitude has swept America. Federal data shows 7 million men – aged 25 to 54 – aren’t participating in the workforce and it isn’t always because of a lack of job openings.

Actually, we’re also seeing the attitude change in other countries from the UK in departing from the EU via Brexit, and the recent Italian elections. Unemployment in Europe, especially with Millennials, has skyrocketed.

Religious radicalism

Religious radicalism is a growing worldwide issue. Spreading from the Middle East, it’s led to terrorism in the EU and the U.S.

Mr. Trump is aware that China doesn’t want to engage in true free trade. China has been manipulating its currency, stealing or extorting intellectual capital of foreign investors, and has been building up its military for dubious reasons.

Since the presidency of Jimmy Carter and in the decades since, the U.S. has been committed to a “One China” policy regarding Taiwan and China has been unchallenged as it’s become increasingly aggressive.

President Obama has been equally weak in this regard. He’s also been mistaken in his approach to the Philippines. He had the ill-advised temerity to lecture President Rodrigo Duterte on how he handles the drug epidemic.

So there’s little wonder Presidents Duterte and Tsai Ing-wen have reached out to Mr. Trump.

Undaunted in order to rescue American economic and security interests, Mr. Trump knows China’s compulsive behavior in violating norms in international commerce isn’t likely to improve without the U.S. taking a brave new approach.

This is in line with his approach on illegal immigration to protect America. He will enforce our southern border and impose “extreme vetting” to screen out immigrants who are hostile to traditional American values.

Mr. Gates is right. Many Americans want Mr. Trump’s “kind of leadership.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here relevant public-policy articles:

Economy: The High Public Price Tag of Manufacturing Jobs — Donald Trump’s election has prompted a surge in optimism for the economy and stock market, according to authoritative polls. But countless manufacturing workers and their families are on public assistance says a UC Berkeley study. The answers aren’t more entitlements or higher minimum wage. Here are the real solutions

Analysis: Trump’s Vision to Fix Trade Deficit, Create Jobs — Donald Trump acts positively: Americans are tired of the reign of politically correct terror, the movement for income redistribution, and the massive loss of good-paying jobs.

2 Democrat Presidents Provide Lessons for Obama in Terrorism — Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, both Democrats, won wide respect for their handling of monster threats to America. Plus, both presidents did not hesitate to identify the enemies, call them out on their lies, and to take decisive action. Why President Obama’s political correctness threatens America’s free-enterprise system.

7 Capitalism Principles for Economic Growth, Prosperity — Employers are discouraged from hiring largely because of uncertainty created by public policies. That includes uncertainty – created by ObamaCare – in costs and taxes.

5 Attributes of Leadership Are Needed Now — With all the dysfunction in the economy and the debate over healthcare, Seattle Consultant Terry Corbell calls for leadership. He says the late President Ford, whom he covered as a journalist, leaves a remarkable legacy of leadership with healthy attributes for businesspeople and public officials to emulate.

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

-Ronald Reagan


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


Choice of Words Matter to Convert Prospects to Customers

Nearly all sales organizations insist their salespeople follow a specified process to persuade prospects to become customers.

Perhaps they understand and use the seven steps to higher sales, the five value perceptions that motive customers to buy and they know how to overcome sales objections.

Such strategies are designed to guide the customer through the buying process.

However, many sales organizations would have an easier route to closing sales if they understood that the choice of words matter. A great salesperson always manages the sales process.

id-100396251In this regard, a 2016 study entitled, “Language of Closers,” by CDK Global makes a lot of sense.

The firm reveals that auto shoppers are motivated to buy depending on the words used by salespeople.

CDK did an analysis of emails from 1,300 car dealers to customers.

The objective was to identify the phrases and words that persuade customers to buy cars.

With more than $2 billion in revenues, CDK Global provides information technology and digital marketing solutions to the automotive retail and adjacent industries.

“People tend to assume that positive words like ‘love’ and ‘amazing’ will be the most persuasive to potential car shoppers,” says Jason Kessler, data scientist at CDK.

“Our research found the opposite and proved that dealers who used proactive language articulating clear next steps for action in their email were the highest closers,” he explains.

“Car shoppers need to be guided through the process and the research supported using language to help them on their journey,” adds Mr. Kessler.

CDK compared the auto dealers’ email responses to online mystery shoppers – a comparison of emails of high-closing dealers to emails of low-closing dealers.

Typically, phrases such as “give me a” and “feel free” were used by the low-closing salespeople in suggesting that a shopper contact the dealer at some indeterminate time in the future.

Such phrases are nebulous because they’re unformulated and fail to encourage shoppers to act. Why? They’re too open-ended because they put the onus back on the shopper.

A great salesperson always manages the sales process.

“This research is exciting because it is so actionable,” explains Mr. Kessler. “By focusing on communication styles that shoppers prefer, dealerships can improve their effectiveness and sell more cars.”

Successful salespeople make a better use of value propositions or benefit statements. CDK confirms that that top word used by high closers is “provide,” and it was used mostly in the context of sharing information.

Additionally, vehicle descriptions, details about the buying process and quotes all help the shopper gain a better understanding so they can feel secure in taking the next step.

But low-closing salespeople use words such as “body style” and “options.” Auto dealer jargon and industry terms are not persuasive when used to answer shopper questions.

CDK’s revelations are not surprising. In my management-consulting practice, in marketing and human resources training for multiple auto dealers, I’ve found this to be true.

Another dealer word used ineffectively by salespeople is “inventory.” Salespeople were advised to use the phrase “you’ll love our great selection” as opposed to the phrase “you’ll love our inventory.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

Tips for Your Success with Effective Follow-up Emails — Ever wonder why you’re waiting nonstop for emails – why you’re unsuccessful after you send follow-up emails? It might be because of your approach.

Evaluate, Negotiate and Implement the Most Affordable CRM — There’s a lot to consider in order for a great return on your CRM investment. Here are four due-diligence tips.

Sales Lessons for Car Dealers and Other Retailers — Increasingly, as you might guess, moms visit Internet sites to shop for cars but want face-to-face meetings before buying. But moms say they must be able to trust before buying.

11 Tips for the Best Business Mobile Web Site — If you operate a retail business, it’s increasingly important for your Web site to be easy-to-use for mobile users. The use of smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing, especially among Millennials — young adults aged 32 and under. Studies also show the majority of mobile aficionados use their devices to access the Internet. Such data continually changes — mobile sales and use of the Internet is consistently rising.

Marketing Warfare to Hit Your Target Audience — Because of heavy competition, marketing has become more difficult. Consumers are suffering from consumer overload; they’re inundated with marketing messages. So use these precautions to connect with your target customers.

Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Lewis Grizzard


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy adamr at

Finding the Right Financial Planner for Your Situation

To achieve your financial goals, it can be a good idea to hire a financial planner. There are several reasons why.

However, if you decide you want a financial planner, always remember due diligence is necessary for your financial security. That means more than checking out a person’s LinkedIn account.

There are many great financial planners but not all are honest. For instance in a well-known case, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze the assets of a financial planner in 2016 on allegations he stole millions of dollars from professional athletes.

Countless published reports indicated the planner, Ash Narayan, took $33 million from 77 clients. He allegedly forged signatures to transfer their money to Ticket Reserve, a ticket-selling company.

He was also accused of not divulging to clients that he was on Ticket Reserve’s board of directors.

So identify an ethical, knowledgeable financial planner who is ideal for you.

id-100210227-1Ask yourself four basic questions:

1. Does the planner relate to me?

You’re more unique than you think. Ambitious people come in all stages – from young Millennials and senior citizens to entrepreneurs and doctors.

So look for a financial planner who can best relate to you and is already familiar with the types of your personal challenges and the important planning strategies.

You might consider searching for an advisor by specialty at

Make certain you feel comfortable with the prospective planner by careful interviewing. You can learn a lot by noticing whether the planner asks a lot of pertinent questions of you and listens well to your answers.

Keep in mind the Pareto Principle – also known as the 80/20 rule. In other words, the planner should ask great questions about your situation but you should be doing 80 percent of the talking.

It’s a red flag if the planner doesn’t focus on you.

Haste makes waste.

2. Will I be getting the right services?

Evaluate your needs so you don’t pay for services you don’t need.

Not all planners who specialize in your situation are actually right for you. Why? In some ways, they might provide services not aligned for your needs.

For example, some might focus on comprehensive planning in budgeting, debt, employee benefits, estate planning, investing and insurance.

But other planners are more focused on investing than in planning.

3. How will I compensate the person?

The way a planner is compensated affects the types of recommendations, which may or may not be helpful to you.

Some planners are paid a commission to sell financial products. This means such planners are limited in what they recommend.

Other planners are fee-only. This means their income is based solely on what you pay them. Of course, this means they are more flexible in determining what’s best for you.

Then, there are fee-based advisors who would charge you a fee and make commissions on what they would sell you.

My personal preference is to choose a fee-only advisor for obvious reasons.

4. Am I double-checking the planner’s trustworthiness?

Again, you must check whether the person is best-qualified to focus on your needs and if the person has the necessary knowledge and skills to help you achieve your financial objectives.

At the minimum, research the person’s background, personality and philosophy. Start with their published comments and videos.

Next, check out the person with the Security and Exchange Commission and FINRA’s BrokerCheck.

Finally, rely on your notes from your discussions and instincts regarding their interactions with you. When in doubt, don’t – don’t hire the person.

From the Coach’s Corner, here is a myriad of relevant strategies:

7 Steps to Wealth and High Net Worth — Creating wealth and enjoying high net worth doesn’t result from pure luck. It takes a certain mindset and strong action. Here are seven proven steps.

8 Financial Vows for a Young Couple’s Successful Marriage — Young people have starry eyes when they plan to marry. Certainly, they look forward to a lifelong bliss together. Unfortunately, about half of first marriages end in divorce. Often, it’s over money disagreements.

Money – Your Net Worth Matters More than What You Earn — When it comes to finance, most business owners and other individuals strive to increase their wealth to have more opportunities. The trouble with some, however, is that they focus on income and not their net worth. That means, of course, spending less than they earn.

Grow Your Business by Appearing Rich but Conserving Cash — You’ll find it easier to grow your firm if you appear to be wealthy. This will enable you to build relationships with successful entrepreneurs who will introduce you to key people and facilitate growth opportunities for you.

9 Top Money Tips to Get Out of Debt — Debt is a killer. But if you’re in debt, you’re already feeling horribly about it. So get busy with these nine strategies.

9 Secrets for Success in Real Estate Investing — Whether you want to work with investor partners or go solo, real estate investing can be a profitable business. By performing due diligence, developing a system and working hard, real estate investing works.

Haste makes waste.


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees

Imagine a hypothetical scenario for a moment the boss, Jane, is frantically trying to optimize revenue.

But an employee named Sue goes to Jane with a troubling story about another employee named Mary. Ironically, Mary is the best-selling employee.

Sue alleges that the Mary is not only under-performing in customer service, she is turning off customers by treating them badly.

Jane panics. It makes her so angry that she approaches Mary with the allegation and reproaches her.

id-10089464Mary is dumbfounded. She becomes upset and denies the allegation. An argument ensues and Jane fires Mary.

Naturally, as a boss you’re more savvy than Jane. You know not to get sucked into this quagmire.

You know not to congratulate Sue for being a tattletale and not to take punitive action against Mary.

Instead, you would have walked the floor at least twice a day to observe your employees working with customers.

You would also have recalled Mary’s superior performance.

You would also have explained to Sue that she should focus on her own customer service skills and not be monitoring other employees unless there’s illegal activity or someone’s safety is at-risk.

As a manager, your job is sometimes made more difficult than necessary because of unproductive workers.

With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. So you should use tactics to enjoy your job managing difficult employees.

You also need to accurately appraise employee performances by avoiding 12 errors in evaluations.

After sufficient counseling and evaluations and employees aren’t able to improve, a good manager doesn’t allow the persons to overstay their welcome.

For a business to perform well, here are the five typical reasons to terminate workers:

1. Lack of productivity

In an uncertain marketplace, it’s not unusual for productivity to slow down. There can be many reasons why an employee is not at fault.

However, if it’s shown you have workers whose productivity is poor, fail to improve, show signs they don’t want to improve or they take up too much of your attention, it’s time for you to act.

That even goes for employees with a good work ethic and who are amiable and reliably on time, if they fail to develop their skills to help you make a dollar. You must make a change.

2. Toxic behavior

Some employees should not be allowed to stay if they’re morale busters.

For instance, perhaps they bully others, frequently argue with you or coworkers, spread rumors, fail to carry out company policies or complain about job requirements, you need to sever the employer-employee relationship.

Aimless complaining is a symptom of problems in teamwork, morale, negativity and/or productivity. You should be getting good employee ideas, not whining.

“Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

-Laurence J. Peter

3. Cannot cope with change

You must have a workforce that understands change is unavoidable. Employees must be OK with change and be flexible to change or improve with the times.

When you have normally dependable workers but who can’t cope, you must nevertheless replace them.

4. No call or no show

When employees suffer a personal tragedy like the loss of a loved one, sometimes the last thing they remember to do is to call into work. Empathy is recommended.

But it’s a red flag if they have another tragedy and fail to call.

To avert losing time and money, your company must have good policies regarding absences.

If employees fail to call again, chances are they’re undesirable workers in other respects. If so, it’s time to let them go.

For healthy profits, it’s also good strategy to embark on a program solve employee absenteeism.

5. Customer and supplier complaints

When a customer or vendor feels taken for granted, 70 percent of the time they will fire your company.

Worse, your word-of-mouth advertising will suffer. Unhappy people will usually complain to numerous others.

For your customers, especially, their complaints about your company will become a crusade in their daily conversations or on social media.

You can’t afford employees who aren’t service-minded for your customers and vendors.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resource links:

Workplace Bullying – Tips for Victims and Bosses — Workplace issues include bullying. It’s a widespread problem for employers and employees, alike. Here are valuable tips for both employers and workplace victims.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

Critical HR Recruiting Strategies for Business Profit — By developing strategic recruiting plans, human resources professionals will make significant contributions to the bottom-line profit goals of their employers. So, it’s imperative to innovate in your recruiting processes and market your strategies to senior management and hiring managers.

How to Rock Your Human Resources with Employee Referrals — Admittedly, there’s a myriad of ways to recruit great employees. But no recruitment option surpasses a well-executed, strategic employee-referral program.

Probation Meetings – HR Tactics for New Employee Success — Hiring employees is expensive. So it’s important to use tactics that will help insure success of new workers. That calls for probation meetings. Here are five proven tactics.

Risk Management in Hiring: Pre-Employment Screening Tips — Here are two questions about hiring: 1) what’s the biggest mistake companies make in hiring employees; and 2) what’s the biggest legal obstacle employers face in hiring? Here’s what to do about background screening.

“Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

-Laurence J. Peter


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at

Tips for Your Success with Effective Follow-up Emails

OK, businessperson, so you’re once again learning that an adage is true: “A watched pot never boils.” That’s especially true when hoping for positive information in business.

If you’re like many businesspeople, you’re experiencing stress waiting to hear back from clients or other associates. You’re wearing yourself out checking your inbox.

Ever wonder why you’re waiting nonstop for emails – why you’re unsuccessful after you send follow-up emails?

id-10099094So you start thinking about all the quotations about perseverance.

You’re motivated to think of excuses to send yet another follow-up email.


First, think about how you feel when you get emails that don’t motivate you.

Many such emails are insulting because they’re annoying, right?

Here are common mistakes in sending follow-up emails:

1. “In case, my email went to your junk…”

Imagining your email recipient never saw your email is unproductive. Sending such an email is fantasy thinking.

Your intended recipient will likely think the same as you.

Worse, the person is likely to think you’re immature from being awkwardly impatient.

2. “Just following up in checking you didn’t forget…”

By sending such an email, you’re assuming there’s an irrational reason why the person hasn’t responded.

Actually, you’re insinuating the person either has amnesia or isn’t organized.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

3. “Because my email hasn’t been working well…”

By dishonestly trying not to insult the person, you’re sending the message that your email system is inefficient.

Scheming is not a virtue. Don’t send such an email unless it’s really true.

4.Realizing you’re really busy…”

Your recipient is likely to be insulted because you’re telling the person to make you a priority. That’s gauche. Put another way, it’s insulting.

Acknowledging the person is busy, but then to become an interruption in his or her day is unproductive and isn’t likely to be received well. You’re actually being dismissive of the person.


Forget the manipulations. Fake excuses will be obvious. They make you look like a dishonest amateur.

If you want an answer, show you have patience with true business acumen. Wait five business days between communications. Send truthful emails with value propositions.

By being patient – not needy – you’re far more likely to win. So don’t give away your power by being impatient.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are tips in the art of persuasion:

Insights – Why Marketers Should Show Moderation in Digital Communication — Businesses will decrease their chances for customer loyalty and repeat business if they don’t act with more self-control in digital marketing.

25 Best Practices for Better Business Writing — If you want to accelerate your career or turbo-charge your business, one of your priorities should be good communication. Good writing is necessary in a myriad of ways, including letters, advertising copy and presentations. A lack of writing skills will hold you back or even hurt your career.

9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech — Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment — here’s how you can get a strong ROI.

Are You Hungry for Marketing Ideas to Expand Your E-mail List? — Bloggers and Web site owners can benefit from the same potpourri of strategies to attract visitors and to persuade them to join an e-mail list.

Business Etiquette Dos and Don’ts – Sending Holiday Cards — One of the best investments for your business relationships is to send holiday cards. It’s an excellent way to stay in touch and to show gratitude in your business relationships. But you must do it right.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy stockimages at

Finance: 9 Characteristics of Successful CFOs

Successful chief financial officers all share at least nine important characteristics that go well beyond crunching numbers.

For instance, such CFOs are leaders and they communicate well with all company stakeholders.

Most of the chief characteristics are inter-related.

id-100109243Here are nine characteristics of successful CFOs:

1. Cash generation

Not to over-simplify, a focus on expense management and revenue growth is the CFO’s most important responsibility for long-term sustainability.

The free Federal Reserve funds won’t last forever. Consistency in cash generation counts most.

Right decision-making is important to take the best-possible initiatives to advance revenue growth.

In turn, the revenue must result in strong cash flow and earnings by utilizing resources and managing expenses. And strategic decisions are needed to maximize value from the cash generation.

2. Development of value-based culture

By developing a value-based culture, the company’s culture will understand value drivers and key performance indicators.

There are two benefits from a value-based culture – the company will prosper, and the CFO becomes trusted as a C-suite partner in creating business strategy for financial growth.

3. Intense pursuit of accuracy and transparency

Financial leadership necessitates anticipating obstacles and issues, and being proactive in searching for accuracy.

So carefully follow the money’s path and know everyone’s role in the company.

4. Work with real-time speed and accuracy

The Digital Age has prompted a dynamic, fast-changing competitive environment. This requires a grounding and management of real-time data.

This will enhance your vision and ability to fully understand your strategic paths.

5. Maximize resources by leaving the office

To create opportunities for growth, the CFO should have a full understanding of how value is created for profits.

So the CFO must frequently leave the office to visit the company’s operations – to best understand how money and time is invested to create value.

6. Laser-like focus on obtaining a return on investments

A laser-like focus on ROI is necessary.

It’s important to examine the needs of the company be prepared to take risks, but minimize risks in order to be certain goals are met.

7. Master in communications

It’s not enough to know and crunch the numbers. A great CFO connects with stakeholders – from the team and bosses to customers.

Become expert in verbal and written communications starting with your team. Provide as much information as possible.

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

-Bill Gates

Show leadership – give authority and the tools of responsibility to your team members so they can be held accountable. Only in this way will your firm benefit from their strong performances.

8. Understand customers’ motives

Learn how your customers succeed in making money. That’s how you’ll determine how to create value that they’ll appreciate.

A CFO should understand to whom the company caters, its key financial drivers and the company’s competitive advantages.

9. Replicate yourself

In a sense, make yourself replaceable. Train a key employee to learn every facet of your job so you can delegate.

This will free you to focus on the big picture and initiatives that will enhance your business growth.

From the Coach’s Corner, here additional relevant CFO tips:

CFO Strategies – Using Data for Success as a C-Suite Partner — In order to become credible partners in the C-suite, CFOs are under significant pressure to gather and analyze data to minimize expenses and facilitate profits for sustainable growth.

Benefits, Precautions in Issuing Business Credit Cards to Employees — Business credit cards are easy, cost-effective ways to control expenses. They’re a great small business tool to pay expenses and to manage your cash. Indeed, there are dos and don’ts to remember in case you’re one of those entrepreneurs who trust your employees to use a company credit card.

10 Best Tech Strategies for Stronger Financial Results — Businesses that use 10 digital best practices are achieving stronger financial results than those that don’t.

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth — Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

Best Practices to Capitalize on Business Intelligence — In the majority of situations BI isn’t effectively used to identify and create opportunities for sustainable growth, according to Forrester Research. Here are the best practices in BI.

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

Bill Gates


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

Tips for Strategic-Thinking in Finance: Your Staff, Individuals

Many companies want accountants and finance professionals who are strategic thinkers. But that’s not happening at most companies.

A study by Robert Half Management Resources ( in 2016 indicates 86 percent of CFOs value strategic thinking.

Thirty percent consider strategic thinking invaluable. But only 46 percent provide appropriate training.

Indeed, another study by advisory firm CEB ( of 2,200 finance professionals at dozens of international companies value strategic thinking but they’re not doing enough about it.

id-100365397The CEB report says finance professionals vary in skills and there are five competency categories:

Doer. These behaviors included strong functional expertise and ability to break down problems into manageable tasks.

Learner. These behaviors included seeking feedback for own performance, looking for opportunities to improve, and asking for help when appropriate.

Strategist. These behaviors included strong understanding of business operations and discussing financial performance in terms of key value drivers.

Persuader. These behaviors included articulating views clearly, challenging business assumptions, and adapting and tailoring communication style.

Builder. These behaviors included creating vision and fostering buy-in, developing people and talent pools, and setting business-aligned goals for the team.

Unfortunately, while builder, strategist, and persuader professionals deliver more value for effective decision-making, such skills aren’t prevalent. Most companies, instead, only have doer and learner competencies.

So how can finance professionals meet needs of their employers in dynamic marketplaces?

CEB suggests six strategies:

1. Screen applicants differently

In interviewing job candidates, ask them to give a demonstration that go beyond their awareness of traditional accounting and finance practices.

Give them a set of data and information, and ask them to make a presentation that will give you an idea about how they assimilate the information, develop strategies and communicate their ideas.

2. Evaluate the candidates’ communication skills

Develop communication metrics that will help you assess the applicants’ abilities. Then, ask the candidates to make a presentation to your team for evaluation purposes.

3. Coordinate with the human resources department

CEB reports 63 percent of finance professionals aren’t confident that HR people don’t fully understand the goals of finance. Fifty-seven percent of HR professionals say their counterparts in finance don’t grasp how recruiting works.

Both departments must make a greater effort to communicate and coordinate their activities.

4. Launch leadership training as early as possible

Don’t wait until a finance person is promoted. Provide early training in leadership competencies.

5. Use a coaching approaching in favor of classroom training

Forget classroom training. Use a dignified approach. Each individual is unique and will respond better to personalized coaching. Include soft skill insights.

Sooner than later you’ll have business partners in finance.

6. Work on building the entire team

Encourage a well-rounded teamwork and collaboration including all necessary competencies. They’ll function better with such communication and learn from each other.

Meantime, for ambitious professionals, Robert Half offers eight career tips:

1. Speak up 

If your employer hasn’t offered training in this area, ask for it. Look for additional professional development options, too, such as working with a mentor.

2. Participate in external events

Attend industry conferences, and take advantage of programs offered by professional and business organizations. Your employer may even reimburse you for the costs.

3. Collaborate across functions

Working with colleagues in other departments will broaden your organizational view and provide new approaches for addressing problems.

4. Volunteer to lead a project team

Your viewpoint and interactions with colleagues will enhance your business acumen and help you identify additional ways to support the firm.

5. Move into a new role

Job rotation provides exposure to different challenges, processes and business units. Along the way, you can learn new best practices and problem-solving techniques.

6. Build big data expertise

Knowing how to work with business intelligence will enable you to identify strategic recommendations for the organization. Big data skills gaps are severe within accounting and finance, giving you the chance to jump ahead in the field.

7. Pursue consulting opportunities

By working as a consultant, you see best practices at a range of firms. You’ll also be able to share your insights with and learn from others.

8. Don’t neglect soft skills

Coming up with ideas is just one part of the equation. You’ll need to be able to communicate them with effectively and cultivate influence to secure buy-in.

From the Coach’s Corner, related career tips:

To Become a Leader, Develop Strategic-Planning Skills in 5 Steps — A salient characteristic of leadership is strategic thinking. If you’re ambitious, the ability to be a strategic planner is critical for your success. Here are five ways to achieve your goal.

Spelling Tips to Enhance Your Communication Skills — Good communication skills start with using proper grammar and spelling. They’re central for your career growth. People who communicate stand head and shoulders above their peers.

Acting, Speaking Coach: How to Improve Communication with Others — If you’re having communication problems with someone important in your career or life, chances are one or both of you will profit from tips in honest communication.

5 Traits of People Who Deliver Bad News Well — Are you nervous about giving bad news to others? Do you wish you were good at it? If you answer yes to either question, here are five traits of good messengers.

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” 

Sun Tsu


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy nenetus at

Best Practices to Buy Cyber Insurance for Business Security

Cyber attacks are certainly well-documented. Security has become problematic in all sectors – business, nonprofits, government, politics and individuals.

The aggregate financial losses are so staggering, 69 percent of consumers worry about security at major companies, according to a study.

Consumers probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most small businesses make them vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft.

id-100445570The cybercrime trend has become so inescapable, cyber-security threats have cost chief executive officers their jobs and now CEOs and boards now fear cyber-security threats.

Hence, there’s a need to buy cyber insurance. You’re not convinced? Here’s an unfortunate case study.

Despite the ever-mounting awareness of data breaches, buying the right protection and being able to buy any insurance from cyber attacks can be daunting.

Many insurance companies are excluding coverage and courts have not been uniform in their rulings regarding insurance policies. Yet cyber insurance is paramount, and you likely need expert cyber-legal advice.

As a starting point, here are five best practices in buying cyber insurance:

1. Understand the big picture of cyber insurance

Unlike typical casualty or life insurance, there isn’t uniformity in cyber insurance. Insurance companies label their policies and their coverages in a myriad of ways.

It’s important to carefully examine coverage terms and the fine print.

There are differences between first-party and third-party coverages. Threats occur in both.

First-party coverage pertains to your business. Third-party coverage refers to your customers, vendors and other stakeholders.

Yet insurance companies often lump the two together along with professional insurance coverage, media and tech coverage, errors and omission policies, and general liability policies.

So you need to fully understand your risks and the available options. This means you must have a competent insurance advisor and legal counsel to prevent gaps in protection.

2. Assess your risks

It’s important you learn the risks you face. Cyber criminals use a wide variety of exploitation methods and have a myriad of motives.

For instance, some might want to damage or shut down your system. Others might want to steal your business data for their financial benefit.

Criminals might go after your customers’ credit card and financial-institution data – for which you’re also legally and morally liable.

There are extortionists who might want install ransomware – software shutting down your IT system until you make a ransome payment to them.

“Privacy is not for the passive.”

-Jeffrey Rosen

So your risks emanate from these possible vulnerabilities:

— You depend on e-commerce for revenue.

— You maintain your customers’ financial information.

— You host Web sites or provide tech services for customers.

— You provide services to customers or the public at-large.

— Your company’s information technology depends on another company or network.

–A breach will be a hit on your reputation and decrease your future income.

So conduct stress tests and risk scenarios.

3. Quantify in dollars the risk from a breach

You should inventory or anticipate the costs to your business if your system is breached and otherwise disrupted.

Not only does this involve direct losses from disruption of your technology to your bottom-line, but damage to your reputation and indirect losses involving third parties, too. All such financial losses would be significant.

Moreover, you are required to notify your customers in the event of a breach.

You must also provide them with credit monitoring, ascertain identity theft-protection services, deal with regulators, cope with penalties from investigations, and contend with lawsuits.

4. Understand your coverage options

Once you know your risks, you must learn what you need in cyber insurance so you can make a determination.

But note the available policies vary widely. For example, as mentioned earlier, coverages for first and third-party losses are combined into one policy.

5. Choose the coverage that’s right for your business

Again, after you anticipate your vulnerabilities by conducting risk scenarios, study all your available options.

Then, with further due diligence pick the insurance company and coverages that will best protect your company.

To select your ideal coverages, involve all your key talent – from your finance and marketing to customer service and IT employees. If you determine coverage is not available for certain risks, do your best to eliminate those risks.

From the Coach’s Corner, here related articles:

Are You Up-to-Date in Managing Cyber Risk? Here’s How — A strange development is taking place. Businesspeople are increasingly concerned about risk management and data loss, but many are implementing the wrong solutions. Here’s what you can do.

Protect Your Financials, Systems and Technology – 15 Tips — Cybercrime has skyrocketed and is projected to get much worse. At risk is the health of your company as well as the welfare of anyone with whom you do business. Here’s how to protect your customers and your reputation.

10 Strategies for Internal Controls of IT and Financial Systems — Obviously, the welfare of your company depends on having an up-to-date information-technology system. IT now impacts every facet of your business. So it follows that you should invest in IT controls to protect and enhance your financial system.

Key Measures to Prevent, Recover from Ransomware — Published reports indicate ransomware cost businesses $350 million in 2015. The FBI considers ransomware attacks one of the three worst cyber threats.

9 Tips to Train Employees to Protect You from Cybercrime — It takes a team approach to protect your organization against the skyrocketing rate of cybercrime. Here are nine training precautions necessary to make sure your employees help you guard against security threats.

“Privacy is not for the passive.”

-Jeffrey Rosen


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy Stuart Miles at

For Strong Profits, 5 Tips to Develop Employees as Leaders

Strong leaders will help your business grow and enjoy excellent profits. That’s because, as role models, they’re instrumental in helping you develop a performance culture.

To enhance your business with a high-performance culture, it’s important to implement best practices in talent-management.

Let’s say you have employees who have leadership potential.

In essence, employees whom you identify for leadership training – must be developed – for relational talents, coaching, cultural insights and other skills.

id-10086761Five strategies to develop role models:

1. Avoid mistakes in selecting employees for leadership in your organization.

The biggest mistake you can make is choosing employees based solely on their success. “What?” you ask.

For example, countless companies promote their strongest salespeople into management without enough consideration for essential qualities. Sales abilities don’t necessarily translate into leadership.

Promote employees who possess qualities that demonstrate they’re capable of inspiring others as leaders, not people who are vulnerable to the Peter Principle (people who rise to their level of incompetence).

You see, leaders see the big picture. They’re focused on your company’s overall welfare.

They’re objective in decision-making, they hold people accountable, and they develop trust in relationships.

Typically, just a small percentage of employees in any organization have these attributes. Some people can be developed as leaders, but that’s only a small percentage of employees.

2. Don’t wait to develop potential leaders.

Companies often waste time by not starting the development of key employees soon enough. When is soon enough? The development must begin as soon as you choose employees for low-level management.

Again, as soon as possible, you’ll want to provide new supervisors with insights, tools and skills that lead to leadership. Otherwise, you’ll risk them developing unproductive habits and ideas.

3. Show them how to learn from Socrates.

Socrates, of course, was a classical Greek philosopher who lived from 470 to 399 BC. He’s credited as one of the founders of western philosophy with his approach to logic, which is known as the Socratic Method.

“Know thyself,” is a phrase attributed to him.

To know thyself, employees must learn how to become self-aware. That’s the first step in developing potential leaders.

To know thyself, employees must learn how to become self-aware. That’s the first step in developing potential leaders.

Self-awareness means employees must understand and accept their personal strengths and weaknesses, and manage their emotions in order to inspire others.

4. Motivate your potential leaders to become mature as coaches.

Leaders work with employees to identify and establish goals for high performance. Leaders provide feedback to employees and coach them to higher levels of performance.

All of this means spotting what’s working and isn’t, recognizing growth opportunities, and helping employees to achieve their full potential.

5. Show your potential leaders how to leverage their employees’ strengths for a performance culture.

You and your leaders must become very aware of your employees – their personal strengths, ideals, shortcomings and goals – to influence your culture to become as strong as possible.

All of this necessitates skills in talent management such as communication, decision making, conflict management, enhancement of teamwork, learning and sharing of ideas.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips on leadership:

HR Retention: Keys to Profit from Cross-Generational Teams — Today’s cross-generational workplaces present a quandary for employee retention. Promote a trust culture that’s appealing to everyone – young and old.

Trending – the 7 Biggest Challenges for Management — In our complex Digital-Age economy with Millennials replacing baby boomers, we can draw some conclusions about developing trends. Management typically faces seven workforce challenges.

21st Century Leadership Requires Authenticity — Here’s how — It’s one thing to be promoted into a management role, but it’s entirely another to be regarded as a leader to inspire a company’s culture. What really matters is knowing how you impact others.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — From Seattle to Singapore, top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

Mindset, Best Practices in Strategic Leadership for Growth — Whatever your situation in pursuing growth, the mindset and best practices in strategic leadership means maintaining a delicate balance – preparing for details and keeping an open mind regarding business uncertainty.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

-Theodore Roosevelt


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at 

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.